‘Temptress’ recalls local history

Exhibit explores Cayman folklore

The Cayman Islands National Museum chose the works of local artisan Twyla Vargas to celebrate International Museum Day on Saturday, 21 May. 

The theme, Memories and Objects Tell Our Story, embraces Ms Vargas’ many art works and local stories.  

According to Acting Museum Director Debra Barnes-Tabora, Ms Vargas’ sculptures, inspired by memories and stories told to her by her grandmother Nettie Levy, help to tell the Cayman story,  

The exhibition – Temptress in a Teapot – focuses on Cayman history and people through the works of Ms Vargas. Saturday was the official opening day and public viewing continues through 30 September.  

“Her piece titled Cojo touches on the stories of slavery. The pirate Blackbeard showcases the aspect of our history,” said Ms Barnes-Tabora. Fun whimsy pieces like Beach Bum and Cayman Rising all help to tell the Cayman story and give a glimpse into the past.”  

Artefacts and antiques  

“The carving Beach Bum, is part gator and part rock lizard and hand-carved from Cayman mahoe,” said Ms Vargas. “An old wooden trunk, which is over 100 years old, was the property of Grandma Nettie who died at 106. In the displays are old irons which Grandma used to iron clothes for the Edens -the first occupants of Pedro Castle. 

Many artefacts made from silver are also on display. There are even pieces on what was the property of a slave girl by the name of Rose,” she said. 

The Caymanian artisan and writer of children’s stories value the old ways and customs of the Caymanian people. Tempest in a Teapot is a collection of stories from Granny’s Back Yard written by Ms Vargas and aired on Radio Cayman’s Saturday morning show.  

Stricknine the donkey, sculptured from Cayman mahogany, is the leading character in the story book Tempest in a Teapot. The King chair is made from a form of Cayman mahoe wood and the Chair Empress is from the heart of the logwood tree, all of which are on display. 

Many of the artefacts have been donated to the Museum for its collection. 


One of Cayman’s greatest tradition is that of storytelling, and Ms Vargas shares that in her stories and art. Her carved mancala piece was awarded the coveted McCoy Prize, Best Fine Craft Award and Best in Show. 

The museum staff, along with Ms Vargas, encourages the community to come out and view colourful paintings, antiques and works that reflect Cayman’s history and culture.  

Visitors are also encouraged to take the opportunity to view the Children’s Science Fair projects, a sampling from Rotary Central’s annual Science Fair. 

In celebration of International Museum Day and Child’s Month, the Museum also hosted a family event on Saturday in the Museum’s courtyard with lots of activities for children, quadrille dancing, exhibits and local foods.

For more information on the exhibition, call the Museum at 949-8368 extension 2021 or email [email protected]  


Artist Twyla Vargas shares with attendees her experience with Stricknine, a cross old donkey that lived in the neighbourhood.
Photo: Jewel Levy